Themed cruises are more popular than ever, with a notable number of cruise virgins opting for them as an incentive to try a cruise. They may be worried about feeling trapped or isolated onboard, unable to relate to the seasoned cruiser, so a chance to immerse themselves in their passion with like-minded people can help them embrace a new type of vacation.
Before booking, be sure to research what type of theme cruise would suit you. The choices vary. You could opt for a block booking of cabins by a fan group, a series of lectures and workshops organised by the cruise line or even a full-ship charter, in which activities are fully centered on that trip's theme. The difference could mean anything from a diversion to keep your interest for a few hours a day to an all-encompassing adventure. As complements, all of these offer the usual in-port adventures.
This year's offerings are as dynamic as ever. From nude river cruises to radio soap operas, cruise operators and specialist holiday firms have something for everyone. Below is a selection of what is on offer for 2013, but please come and look again, as we will be updating the content on a regular basis. (And if you want us to include a trip that is not on the list, don't hesitate to contact us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
|Food & Wine||Sport||Nature and Ecology|
|Arts and Crafts||Music||Dance|
|History and World Affairs||TV, Film and Radio||Fitness and Well-Being|
Food and Wine Cruises
The Theme: Experience the vibrant cuisines of France and Spain with Windstar Cruises.
Dates: 1st September 2015.
Details: Set sail from London and take in the culinary delights of the western coasts of France and Spain as Windstar Cruises offers you this chance to taste the specialities of France and Spain. Aboard Windstar's newest, and as yet un-launched ship the Star Legend, you will leave Dover harbour and take in the sights, smells and tastes of bustling towns such as St-Malo, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, El Ferrol and Porto before finally reaching your goal, Portugal's capital Lisbon. Along the way you will able to sample some of the world's best seafood, delicious fortified wines such as Port and delicious tapas. Along the route of your cruise there are a vast array of culinary treats and trips waiting for you to enjoy. Enjoy a guided tour through some of the finest cellars in Bordeaux dating back to 1330 and see the creation of the famed red wine, and turn your hand to the Portuguese art of filigree. Visit Portugal's first capital city of Guimaraes and take in the cities magnificent castle, cobbled streets and rich array of art, tapestries and furniture. Or explore the culinary and political history of Porto, and find out all about the wine which bears its name. A cruise full of fantastic flavours, sights and experiences this is a must for all foodies.
Caveat: Sturdy shoes are a must for walking Guimaraes' cobbled streets!
The Theme: Enjoy the beers of Belgium and the Netherlands with AMAWaterways.
Dates: 31st March 2015.
Details: Experience the serene and beautiful waterways of the Low Countries with AMAWaterways as they guide you through both the rivers and the many beers of Belgium and the Netherlands. Aboard the luxurious AmaLyra you will sail in a round trip to and from historic Amsterdam, famed for its vibrant city life, canals and medieval cityscape calling at the storied cities of Antwerp, home of Rubens, Ghent with its grand castle and Bruges, Europe's best preserved medieval cities. Along the voyage you will be joined by renowned beer expert and author Don Russell who will guide you through numerous beer tastings, brewery tours and lectures on the techniques which produce some of the world's greatest beers. While on your cruise you will be able to enjoy numerous shore excursions in the area allowing you to take in all the history and culture that this vibrant area has to offer. Visit Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, tour the Heineken Brewery, explore the history of the Battle of Arnhem and take a trip to see the famed windmills of Kinderdijik. A perfect cruise for lovers of culture, history or beer this river voyage is not to be missed.
Caveat:Many shore excursions have alternative trips running simultaneously, research in advance to find the right one for you.
The Theme: Enjoy the beers of Austria with Avalon Waterways.
Dates: 9th October 2015.
Details: This cruise is a fantastic chance to enjoy the peaceful waterways and superb beers of the river Danube with Avalon Waterways beer tasting cruise. Aboard the comfortable and well appointed Avalon Expression you will sail the Danube from the Austrian capital of Vienna with its grand imperial architecture and imposing St Stephan's Cathedral and head west until you reach the characterful German city of Munich. You will walk the streets of Vienna guided by knowledgeable experts who will immerse you in the culture and history of the city, see the famed Lipizzaner horse of the Spanish Riding School, sample fine local wines at the town of Dürnstein-Melk where you will see the ruins of Richard the Lionheart's medieval prison and even visit the spectacular fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, a romantic folly built high in German's Bavarian Alps. Along the way you will also be accompanied by expert brewers and tasters of fine beer, who will teach you all about the local's favourite tipples, as well as providing you with many of the regions famous beers. Throw in a visit to one of Munich's famed Biergarten's and this trip becomes a beer lovers dream, as well as a fantastic way to indulge in the beautiful landscape of the Danube.
Caveat:Book well in advance to insure you gain a place on the exclusive beer cruise.
The Theme: Explore Latin America in the company of Crystal Cruises Food and Drink festival.
Dates: 14th February 2016.
Details: The coastline of South America is a beautiful and varied place, and now Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to see it in all its glory, from the comfort of your cabin surrounded by the delicacies of the Crystal Wine and Food Festival. While aboard the Crystal Symphony you will sail from the beautiful city of Valparaíso in Chile, famed for its flowers and vibrancy, all the way up the western coast of South America, passing through the Panama Canal before traversing the Caribbean and reaching the sundrenched city of Miami. You will be able to head ashore and enjoy the immersive beauty of the Caribbean, from the sweltering heat of the rainforests, to the idyllic white sands of the island of Jamaica. Crystal Cruises will also treat you with a food themed festival while aboard, meaning you can while away your evenings in this tropical paradise in true luxury, with renowned chefs, sommeliers and culinary experts travelling with you to create a memorable food experience. A rare chance to discover a fascinating facet of the world and delicious cuisine, this cruise is not to be missed.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening meals
The Theme: Goling on the Adriatic with Sea Cloud Cruises.
Dates: 10 April 2015.
Details: Take some time out to experience some of the most beautiful surroundings and to take in the views with a few challenging rounds of golf. Passengers on the Sea Cloud II can take in a stylish cruise that takes in Venice, Hvar, Dubrovnik and Monopoli, as well as the Dalmatian Coast – enjoying the fairways, ranges and greens along the way.
Caveat: Remember to bring suitable clothing and your favourite clubs!
The Theme: Cruise the rugged North Sea and enjoy the British Open with this Golf themed cruise from Azamara.
Dates: 18th July 2015.
Details: If you are both a keen explorer and a golf fan then this cruise is an absolute must for you. Setting sail from Southampton aboard the Azamara Quest you will be welcomed aboard with cocktails and a briefing from your crew, before the ship makes its way towards Guernsey and from there to Cork, where you will head ashore to play the Old Head Golf Links, perched on the edge of the wild Atlantic. Alternatively you could play the Fota Island Deerpark Course or enjoy a guided tour of beautiful historic Cork. The ship then continues on to vibrant Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast and Invergordon, all of which will open the doors to their famed golf courses for you, as well as giving you the opportunity to envoy the many varied cultures of the British Isles. Once you arrive in Leith you will go on to enjoy the second round of the 144th Open Golf Championship at the Old Course St Andrews. Stay aboard from Scotland and this well appointed cruise will take you up the beautiful coast of Norway, visiting iconic ports such as picturesque Bergen, Tromso and Europe's most northerly point, the apply names North Cape. Coming to an end in Copenhagen, this cruise takes in some of the world's finest golf courses, allows you to see some of the world's finest golfers as well as some truly beautiful scenery.
Caveat: Remember to pack appropriate clothing to insure you will be allowed to play on all the course on the route!
The Theme: Explore the coastline and golf courses of great Britain with Crystal Cruises.
Dates: 25th July 2015.
Details: In a round trip setting sail from London's historic port, this cruise offers you the chance to take in the rugged and wild coastline of the United Kingdom. From the Channel Islands to Waterford, Holyhead to Greenock, Dublin to Portland, this cruise will shine a light into every nook and cranny of this remarkable coastline, allowing you to see these islands from a rare perspective. What is more, while aboard the Crystal Serenity you will be able to enjoy Crystal Cruises Golf theme pack, allowing you to step ashore and enjoy some of the world's finest golf courses, all in the company of PGA experts who will chat and help you hone your game. For when you're off the golf course there are many shore excursions for you to enjoy. Travellers can visit the historic Tower of London, see the Channel Islands from a speeding RIB, play a round of gold at Waterford's Faithlegg Golf Course and visit the Jameson's Distillery and Guinness Brewery in Dublin. This cruise gives travellers a chance to experience the many varied dimensions of British culture, cuisine, sport and history, and is not to be missed!
Caveat:Remember to dress appropriately for the UK's top gold courses to avoid disappointment.
Nature and Ecology Cruises
The Theme: Explore the Northwest Passage with Crystal Cruises.
Dates: 16th August 2016.
Details: In a real must for nature and history lovers alike, Crystal Cruises is offering you the chance to step aboard their expedition to the legendary Northwest Passage, and retrace the footsteps of famed explorers throughout history. Aboard the Crystal Serenity you will set out from Anchorage in Alaska, and take to the frigid but stunning waters of the Beaufort Sea, winding your way through glaciers and icebergs to your ultimate destination, new York City. Along the way you will see rare wildlife, take part in expedition days out into the wild ocean all the while being kept in the lap of luxury. The range of excursions available on this cruise is vast and varied, and they are sure to provide excitement and adventure to all travellers. Set sail on a 48 foot yacht out of Anchorage to spot whales, or visit the Russian settlement on Kodiak Island. Play a relaxing day of gold at Kebo Valley Golf club or hike Gorham Mountain, retrace the steps of America's Revolutionary hero's in Boston or enjoy exclusive meals in New York City. From wild and rugged to calm and sophisticated, this cruise has something to offer everyone from adventurous to historians, as well as giving you a chance to see the beautiful and mysterious Northwest Passage.
Caveat:Remember to pack warmly for the frozen waters of the Beaufort Sea!
The Theme: Experience the history and nature of the Arctic as you explore the footsteps of Franklin.
Dates: August 16th 2015.
Details: Take to the beautiful and savage waters of the Arctic Circle and the frigid Canadian north as you trace the doomed but famed footsteps of explorer John Franklin and his quest for the Northwest Passage. Setting sail aboard Quark Cruise's sturdy Sea Explorer you will make your way from the rugged coast of Greenland, visiting ancient homesteads, vast fjords and hikes across the wild tundra, and up to the Canadian island of Cobourg where you will seek out illusive Polar Bears and other beautiful creatures. From there you will sail to the Canadian city of Toronto where you will spend your final night of the trip enjoying the vibrant urban atmosphere after two weeks in the wilds. Along the route of the cruise you will have the opportunity to enjoy numerous varied excursions and trips which will make this cruise a truly memorable one. You will visit majestic glaciers, and maybe even witness a calving, the birth of a new glacier from the mother, you will witness demonstrations of traditional kayaks as well as watch the rich and varied wildlife of these frozen seas. At Lancaster Sound and Leopold Island you will see huge seabird colonies, a Canadian Mounted Police base as well as the sombre but powerful gravesite of Franklin's expedition. With the recent discovery of HMS Investigator, one of the ships sent out to search for Franklin the expedition has returned to the public spotlight, and this cruise is a once in a lifetime chance to appreciate the beauty and wildness of Arctic exploration.
Caveat: Remember that this cruise is a real adventure in a wild environment, and delays due to weather should be expected and taken in stride.
The Theme: Hunt for the Northern Lights aboard Norway's Hurtigruten Cruise Line
Dates: March 14th 2015.
Details: Step aboard the sturdy and comfortable MS Midnatsol from Norway's Hurtigruten, a cruise line which has become synonymous with journeys through the romantic fjords and hunt for the illusive Northern Lights beyond the Arctic Circle. Leaving from the beautiful port of Bergen, famed for its brightly painted wooden seafront facade, the ship will thread the many inlets and islands of the Norwegian coast, calling at sleek and modern Ålesund, the medieval cathedral city of Trondheim and Kirkenes, the turning point for this round voyage just 10 kilometres from the Russian border. Along the way you will be able to take part in many fantastic shore excursions, such as a wilderness adventure camp in the wilds of the north, dog sledding along plateaus and mountains, perhaps giving you a view of the Northern Lights as you race through the snow and an exclusive trip to the Northern Lights Planetarium. You can take a night-time snowmobile ride Mehamn, the world most northerly mainland town or enjoy a stirring midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. On board you will be joined by expert astronomers and scientists, such as Dr John Mason MBE and Ian Ridpath who will provide all their knowledge to help you spot the ever illusive lights. An experience you will tell stories about for years to come this cruise is a must for adventurers everywhere.
Caveat:Wrap warmly and bring hats, scarves and gloves as the Norwegian winter is bitterly cold!
Arts and Crafts Cruises
The Theme: Enjoy the cultural variety of the Danube this AMAWaterways Celebration of Life cruise.
Dates: 28th October 2015.
Details: Explore the rich and vibrant culture of the River Danube, as you celebrate the variety of life and help to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. As you make your way from elegant and lively Budapest to the German city of Munich you will call at such cultural capitals as Bratislava, Vienna and Passau, famous names in the fields of art and music. What is more you can experience the richness of central Europe and help to combat Breast Cancer, as for every state room that is booked aboard the AmaSonata , $500 will be donated to help raise awareness, aid treatment and research into further treatment of the disease. While you are afloat on the mighty Danube, you will have a vast array of shore excursions to choose from to further enrich this already jam packed cruise. Take in St Stephan's Basilica and Buda Castle and great Imperial architecture in Budapest, enjoy an evening of Viennese wine and music, as well as visiting the cities majestic Opera House and even attend a concert of the works of Mozart and Strauss. Enjoy an excursion to Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace, or even celebrate “Oktoberfest” in Passau, a tradition German celebration of the finest beers. A chance to experience Europe's finest culture, and do good at the same time, this cruise is a once in a life time opportunity.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the trips musical evenings!
The Theme: See the artistic wonders of France with Avalon Waterways.
Dates: 28 July 2014.
Details: Impressionism, one of the most influential periods of artistic development, was pioneered in France, where the landscapes, the people and the politics helped form a new way of looking at things and appreciating what art is. This cruise, aboard the Avalon Creativity, gives passengers the opportunity to sail the Seine, taking in the Musee d'Orsay and the Musee Marmottan Monet, as well as some of the Normandy villages and historic locations that inspired some of the most famous paintings of all time.
Caveat:Other dates for this cruise feature different themes. Make sure to book on the art theme crusie.
The Theme: Sail the rivers of Europe, sampling the music that makes the regions what they are.
Dates: 29 April 2015.
Details: Here's a deal for music lovers, offering a unique way to get to the bottom of the diverse cultures of Europe – through their music! This 23 night adventure crosses the European continent in style, with passengers being accompanied by the London Festival Opera along the Rhine, Maine and Danube. The rich culture of the regions being visited, including Vienna, Budapest, Rudesheim and the Wachau Valley, will be illuminated through music, with performances from local Gypsy bands, an organ recital and live classical music onboard the ship, bringing the voyage to life. The cruise will be aboard the Royal Crown, a small river cruiser known for its idyllic and glamorous surrounds.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary!
The Theme: Strictly Come Dancing on the Iberian Peninsula.
Dates: 23 April 2015.
Details: If you're enjoying the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, but want to continue with the glamour and glitz of the ballroom throughout the spring, this could be the cruise for you. Passengers aboard the Aurora can take to the dance floor with some of the stars of the hit TV dancing programme, learning to tread the boards themselves and taking in live demonstrations from professional dancers. The cruise takes in the coastlines of the Iberian Peninsula, adding some real Latin passion and vibrancy to the heady music on board.
Caveat: Remember to pack some comfortable dancing shoes!
History and World Affairs Cruises
The Theme: Sail the Seine to the D-Day Landing beaches with Avalon Cruises
Dates: 24th March 2015.
Details: Few locations in the world are as iconic and significant as the vast expanse of sand and battered bunkers of the Normandy beaches, where the vast D-Day invasion made landfall. With this cruise from Avalon Cruises you can pair these historic sights with the elegance and culture of Paris and Rouen, ancient centres of art and cuisine all grouped along the banks of the mighty Seine. Aboard the Avalon Creativity you will cruise all the way down one of Frances' greatest waterways, from the bright lights and soaring architecture of the capital to Caudebec, from where you will be driven to the beaches of Normandy, an opportunity which makes this cruise a must for history lovers. Along the way there will be a wide range of excursions for travellers to choose from, such as onboard pastry courses, trips to Bizy Castle, see Rouen's great cathedral and astronomical clock, and visit Napoleon and Josephine's Chateau of Malmaison. This river cruise is a remarkable opportunity for students of culture and history to see a rich cross section of France's varied history, all from the comfort of your own cabin.
Caveat:Be sure to bring a camera so as not to miss out on the iconic sights and locations of Paris, Rouen and Omaha beach!
TV, Film and Radio Cruises
The Theme: Meet Nickelodeon characters on Norwegian Cruise Line's cruises
Dates: Year-round cruises on selected ships.
Details: As family entertainment goes, getting to meet favourite Nickelodeon characters such as Sponge Bob Squarepants, Dora the explorer, the fairly-odd parents and the stars of iCarly, makes for quite a special cruise. Passengers traveling aboard the Norwegian Epic or the Norwegian Jewel will be able to mingle with the Nickelodeon stars as well as take part in special onboard games and activities, such as singing and dancing, watching exclusive premieres of Nickelodeon TV shows and taking part in the channel's signature ‘slime time' game show. These children's activities are intended to help bring families together over long cruises, giving them plenty of opportunities to play together as well as providing some time alone for parents.
Fitness and Wellness Cruises
The Theme: Visit the springs of Budapest and relax on this wellness cruise.
Dates: 1 April, 2015.
Details: Cruises are all about relaxing and visiting places is best done when you're completely at ease. Step in this itinerary from Avalon Cruises, which gives passengers the opportunity to replenish themselves and to enjoy the best of the cities on offer, including the famous Gellert thermal bath houses of Budapest. Passengers aboard the Avalon Luminary can also pamper themselves onboard, with a range of spa treatments being available.
Caveat: Bring exercise gear to get the best out of the onboard fitness options.
The Theme: Wellbeing spa holiday aboard Costa Cruises
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected Costa ships in 2015.
Details: Everyone knows that the sea air is good for you, but Costa Cruises has gone one further with the introduction of their health and wellness cruises, aimed at giving passengers the full spa treatment to make their holiday that bit more relaxing. Passengers can book a place on the Wellness programme aboard the Costa Mediterranea or the Costa Atlantica, while passengers traveling on the Costa Magica, Costa Fortuna, Costa Victoria, and Costa Classica can also partake in therapeutic ‘Harmony and Relaxation' treatments. Guests can also visit the exclusive Samsara Spas aboard selected ships.
Caveat: Watch out for treatments that cost extra or that aren't included under the wellness package.
The Theme: Relax and Rejuvenate with MSC Cruises
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected MSC Cruises' ships in 2015.
Details: MSC Cruises want you to have a more balanced experience aboard their ships and are encouraging passengers to replenish both their bodies and their minds in one of their onboard Aurea spas. There are a number of packages for people looking to incorporate the spa experience more fully into their cruise. Passengers on the MSC Divina, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra and the MSC Musica, can enjoy a Wellness package for two, including massages and special treatments, while single gentlemen or ladies travelling on these ships can consider a male or female only spa experience.
Caveat: Be careful to keep an eye on what treatments are included under the spa packages and remember that extra treatments may cost extra.
The Theme: Enjoy the splendour of a ships inaugural voyage with Windstar Cruises.
Dates: 25th May 2015.
Details: Experience the glamour and majesty of a ships maiden cruise, as Windstar Cruises invites you aboard the first voyage of the latest addition to their fleet, the elegant Star Legend. As the ship makes its way from the Eternal City of Rome to Barcelona you will have numerous opportunities to experience all of the extravagance of the golden age of cruising, with welcoming parties, deck top gala's and continuing festivities throughout your cruise. You will also be welcomed to the Star Legend's opulent christening ceremony as a guest of Windstar Cruises, as you celebrate the start of this ships new career. As you sail through the Mediterranean, calling at such ports as Portofino, Sanary-sur-Mer and Monte Carlo, you will be able to add many shore excursions to your trip in order to further enrich your cruise, and see in the Star Legend in style. Step ashore on the beautiful island of Elba and visit the Napoleon Museum, giving you a glimpse into the Emperors exile, or sample wines at his favourite vineyard. Take hiking trips around the port of Portofino, or visit the magnificent walled city of Carcassonne. For a cruise filled with Mediterranean sun and glamour you need look no further.
Caveat:Book your preferred shore excursions well in advance to insure you avoid disappointment!
The Theme: Join Silversea on a once in a lifetime round the world cruise.
Dates: January 5th 2015.
Details: This cruise provides travellers with a chance to fulfil a real lifetime wish, to travel around the world. Aboard the luxurious and intimate Silver Whisper you will have a chance to visit some of the most remarkable places in the world, as Silversea Cruises offers you the chance to sail all the way from Los Angelis to Fort Lauderdale, taking in the waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the South China sea. Calling at ports ranging from Singapore to Dakar, Hong Kong to San Juan this cruise is full of activities and shore excursions, as varied and exotic as the destinations themselves. From visiting the giant tikis of Taiohae on the Marquesas Islands, snorkelling off Bora Bora and visiting the Zoological Gardens of Melbourne to visiting the jungle reserves of Madagascar, Half-Moon beach in the Maldives and the Castillio San Felipe del Morro, the great Spanish fortress of San Juan in Puerto Rico there is a vast range of sights and experiences for you to enjoy on this globetrotting cruise. A rare opportunity to do something which many people list as their most distant dream, this cruise should not be missed!
Caveat: Book well in advance as this cruise is sure to fill up quickly!
The Theme: Murder Mysteries on the High Seas
Dates: Various dates throughout 2015
Details: Whodunit Productions will be stepping onboard a variety of Royal Caribbean ships to bring a sense of mystery and intrigue to your cruise. With comical shows and performances, you will have the chance to solve murder mysteries at sea. This is not one for the meek, as you will be given your own character to play. All cruises leave from America and are priced in U.S. dollars.
The Theme: Enjoy the famed Christmas markets of Germany on this festive themed Avalon Cruise.
Dates: 14th December 2015
Details: What better way could there be to celebrate the coming of Christmas than to take in the joviality and festive charm of the famed Christmas markets of Germany? With Avalon Cruises you can do just this, as the luxurious Avalon Vista will be winding its way down the peaceful Rhine from the beautiful city of Frankfurt to Basel, taking in the beautiful landscape, wintery treats and of course rich Glühwein along the way. From Frankfurt you will sail to Heidelberg, home of the world's largest barrel of wine, the fifty eight thousand gallon Great Vat, as well as the imposing ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Here you will explore a Christmas market spread over five picturesque squares through the city. Strasbourg in France is the host of your next market, one of the oldest in all Europe, and here you will be able to enjoy fine bistros in the French district, as well as the majesty of Strasbourg Cathedral. Before you finally reach the splendour of Basel, you will see the rugged splendour of the Black Forest, as well as its famed cakes, hams and peaceful wooden towns, such as Breisach the location of your final market. This festive cruise is a perfect trip for those wishing to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit.
Caveat:These Christmas cruises are extremely popular, so be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment!
--by Joshua Thomas, Cruise Critic U.K. Contributor